Category: ghana/Botswana 2018

On the Way Home; the Last Day and Reflections

April 20-21, Reflections.

We “sleep in”, not awakening until after 6:30, when we pack and go for breakfast. We do a two and a half hour game drive to the airport. The highlight was locating and following a leopard and her cub. With G on all of our drives is a man named Dish, who is not employed by the camp, but is a representative of the local community, charged with looking out for the environment. Dish has been quiet throughout, but pleasant and helpful to us in many ways.

We take a small plane to Maun, flying over the Delta once again.

In Maun we get a pleasant surprise—we are able to check our bags through from Maun to Joburg to Paris to Atlanta. Frankly, I don’t care that much whether our bags arrive with us or not; I can wait for my dirty laundry, if necessary. Time to say farewell to Africa, though.

Our flight to Joburg is late, but we’re met at the airport by a VIP service arranged for by our travel agents who skips the lines and gets us to the right terminal for our flight to Paris, where we hang out in the Air France Lounge for a while. From Paris we will fly to Atlanta arriving some thirty hours after setting out from our first flight in Botswana. We’ll have lunch in Atlanta with Wendy, Chris and Maxi (Zoe has an all day- rehearsal) nap for a few hours and then have dinner with Robert and Joseph, who live in Atlanta and with whom we traveled to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. After we awake Sunday morning, we’ll catch our flight to Chicago. Five days later, we fly back to Atlanta for the weekend to see Zoe star in “Annie.”

The long flight to Paris seems an appropriate time to reflect on the trip.

First and foremost, this is Phoebe’s trip, so the real test of its success is how Phoebe felt about it. She loved it. And I don’t base this solely on the 106 different species of birds she saw and listed, or on the more than 7200 photos she took. As is my wont, I put a bunch of questions to her, and I want to share some of her answers.

I asked which part of the trip she’d choose to do, if she could do only either Ghana or Botswana. This was tough for her, because she loved both, but she said that she’d choose Ghana, because it was more personal and she learned more about culture. This was consistent with the fact that her initial choice of where to go was Ghana. (By the way, Carol and I both said that we’d have chosen Botswana, because having been to Ghana six times, we had experienced most everything there before. We both said, though, that if we were taking Phoebe, our choice would be Ghana.)

I also asked Phoebe which she would choose if she could do only the mobile tent safari or stay at the much more upscale permanent tent camp we stayed at. She said she’d choose the mobile tent safari, because it was so different and because you really feel a part of the landscape and the experience. (Carol and I both would choose that, too.)

Poor Phoebe had to answer a whole lot of other questions with lists, too (most surprising aspects of the trip, favorite Ghana experiences, favorite Botswana, favorite overall and a list of the reasons why she liked to travel with me). But my favorite answer was to the question of what she thought would change for her because of the trip, and I want to share that answer with you:

5 things that will change for me because of the trip

I think I’ll be a lot braver because of this trip

I’ll be more willing to try new things

I have a better understanding of different cultures and an appreciation for them

I’ll complain about little things less

I’ll probably travel a lot when I’m grown up since you started me so young!

So, you now understand why I say the trip was such a big success. We could not have chosen outcomes we’d like more than the changes Phoebe anticipates.

So, Ghana and Botswana. The trip we’ve taken that I’d most compare this trip to was our trip to the Galapagos and Peru. In both of these trips we really took two distinct trips in one, so the contrasts were very interesting.

For this trip, both Ghana and Botswana change your way of thinking, but in very different ways. Ghana gives you a sense of how people in another culture live, which causes you to reflect on what’s really important in life and on how much of what occupies our day-to-day thoughts really doesn’t matter a damn in the scheme of things.

Botswana, on the other hand, causes you to reflect on where we humans fit into the universe. We’re privileged to share the vast earth we live on with many species of magnificent birds and animals. What sort of arrogance causes us to think we’re so special and have a right to do what we want with the planet? Of course, in Africa, animals do kill one another but they do it to survive and to eat. You don’t see an antelope head mounted on a plaque in a lion’s den. The safari experience provides a new perspective on the brutality of hunting other living things for sport.

One may even wonder whether there might be parallels between predatory animal behavior between species in Africa and our predatory human animal behavior with respect to people different from us. To survive in the wild does not require fear of other animals, but, rather, respect for them. Might we not benefit by trying to convert some of our fears of other peoples into respect for them?

Carol and I have been privileged to go on a half dozen or more safaris. We’ve loved all of them, but I’ve never been quite so impressed with the grandeur and scope of what we witnessed, or the intricate patterns and elements that hold the fragile balance together as I was on this safari. I think that part of this realization, at least, was fostered by the ground level perspective we gained from our six-day tent safari and from talking with Roger.

Maybe there’s something as fabulous as sharing a more than 2 1/2-week trip like this with your granddaughter. But, if there is, we haven’t found it.

Thanks again, for following us, and especially to those who take the time to comment on the blog. Those comments are an inspiration to keep writing.

Next blogging trip will probably be an October photography trip to tribal areas in Eastern India. Carol has decided not to go on this one, so it’ll be just you and me, okay?

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>